Report sheds light on ‘Bright’ — North Korea’s version of Internet

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The Associated Press was granted a rare peek recently into North Korea’s tightly controlled Intranet called Kwangmyong, or “Bright,” where wealthy students can gain limited access to chats, emails and government-approved information.

The AP describes a scene at North Korea’s Kim Il Sung University, where students stare at brightly lit computer screens — only they’re not looking at photos of kittens on Instagram, but likely websites that don’t even exist outside of the hermit kingdom.

Chats and emails are very closely monitored and content is restricted “to the point that the use of Bright hardly even needs to be watched by officials,” the AP said.

Bright was launched more than 10 years ago and is off-limits to foreigners. It can be only be accessed in North Korea.

“Red Star” is the country’s operating system, similar to Windows, and “Our Country” is a Firefox-like search engine “that helps users navigate around an estimated 1,000 to 5,500 websites, mostly for universities, government offices, libraries and state-run corporations,” the report said.

Will Scott, a computer sciences instructor at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, told the news agency about his knowledge of Bright.

“The Intranet provides a connection between industry, universities and the government. It seems to be focused on information propagation, rather than commerce, entertainment or communication,” he said. “Given the limited resources in the country, where computers are likely not to be owned by individuals, and are a valuable resource, this has a striking resemblance to the uses first made of the Internet in the U.S. when it was introduced in the ‘80s.”

Graduate students and North Korean professors at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology are allowed to access the real Internet from a dedicated computer lab, the report said. They receive the same unfiltered access that foreign professors do, although everyone’s access is monitored.

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